Archive for the ‘TITLE I’ Category

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (2010)

2011/02/09

http://www.ispitonyourgravemovie.co.uk/

http://www.ispitonyourgravemovie.com/

USA 2010  Directed by: Stephen R. Monroe  Written by: Jeffrey Reddick  Produced by: Lisa M. Hansen, Paul Hertzberg  Cinematography by: Neil Lisk  Editing by: Daniel Duncan  Music by: Corey A. Jackson  Cast: Sarah Butler, Chad Lindberg, Daniel Franzese, Rodney Eastman, Jeff Branson Andrew Howard, Tracey Walter, Mollie Milligan, Saxon Sharbino, Amber Dawen Landrum

Meir Zarchi’s I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE wasn’t really a discourse on gender roles or a prime example of female empowerment, was it? So I guess that doesn’t make the 2010 remake a film of highly ethical intent either.

Even by genre standards I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE was never a truly accomplished work, but simply the right film at the right time (just like THE SOCIAL NETWORK is now). Amid video nasties, changing global politics and increasingly confusing, drifting pop culture output and lifestyles it seemed to be the perfect moment to cater to those who rent even the most disgusting stuff from the dark corners of the local video store and at the same time piss off the mainstream as good as possible. It wasn’t enough for a new SNUFF though.

In the context of early 80’s horror I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE mostly lived off of its general idea, even more of its title I believe, and less of its sketchy execution: I still think that the name made people watch it in the first place, followed by its reputation and content. Seen in a larger context I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE was nothing more than a cheap re-imagining of John Boorman’s DELIVERANCE, so overall it got far more attention than it deserved.

While being anything but a real genre milestone, it’s now a classic and a bit of cultural heritage, and an update seemed to suggest itself. So here is I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 2010, and it follows the path of many contemporary remakes. Essentially, the film is a polished 2.0 version, featuring surprisingly artful dramaturgy, cinematography, editing and acting. The standards are comparable to what you can expect from a 2010 horror remake, and bearing in mind the gritty subject the new I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE seems almost too commercial.

Its biggest achievement is probably that it’s still politically incorrect, nasty and brutal, an uncomfortable, relentless rape-and-revenge flick that spends half of its time on psychological and the other half on physical torture. The more sensitive among the viewers (although I can’t really think of any reason a sensitive viewer should end up watching I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE) will notice that the film spends a substantial amount of time “preparing” the prey for dinner time, including inflicting extensive terror before the climatic rape sequence. It is debatable if this a) provides better reason for the victim to kill the tormentors, or b) is an extensive indulgence of violence that consumes the largest part of the film’s running time.

From a cinematic point of view the pace and gradual increase in momentum works very well for the film, working its way up from a subtle, but always present threat level to an almost unbearable, intense atmosphere shortly before the rape. What follows then is an entire second act that replays the sequential dramaturgy of the first act, only this time everything is accelerated.

And now for the biggest letdown: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is completely unrealistic and not believable as soon as the revenge part starts. It is highly satisfying though, especially as the character description of the bad guys is relatively well-rounded, but that probably only means it appeals to our lower instincts more than our Christian upbringing. Where the film’s narrative falls apart is when the innocent city-girl-writer becomes a super-heroine torturing the rednecks with the help of ultra-sophisticated set-ups, methods or weapons. I don’t doubt she is capable of dreaming that all up, but I don’t see how she’s able to execute it.

If you’re in it for the thrills and frills and furbelows I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is an ok genre flick that’s as good or bad as its contemporaries. If you mind a serious slasher turning comical in the second half despite all brutality you’ll find better examples of the rape-and-revenge bracket elsewhere.

J.


 

 

 

 

IRIS: THE MOVIE a.k.a. IRIS – THE LAST [AHIRISEU | 아이리스 : 더 무비 | 아이리스 – 극장판]

2011/01/13

http://www.iristhemovie.jp/

KOREA 2010  Directed by: Yang Yun-Ho, Kim Kyu-Tae Produced by: Taewon Chung Cast: Lee Byung-Hun, Kim Tae-Hee, Jeong Jun-Ho, Kim Seung-Woo, Kim So-Yeon, T.O.P.

PREFACE: saying IRIS: THE MOVIE was a good or a bad movie in principle is impossible. The feature film following the successful KBS TV Series is essentially a re-edit of the 20 preceding episodes, plus additional unseen footage that is supposed to enhance the storyline, deepen certain aspects of the drama and answer some of the open questions. Meaning, not much of IRIS: THE MOVIE is genuine, entirely new or surprising to those who have watched the series before. Quite the opposite.

THE TV SERIES: IRIS the television drama is most certainly one of the best shows coming out of Korea so far, and it’s a great show by any standard. However, we shouldn’t be kidding ourselves and believe that IRIS is reinventing the wheel: IRIS is a carbon copy of 24, with Lee Byung-Hun reprising the role of Kiefer Sutherland. Along the way the plot, storyline, characters and dramaturgy are purely 24, the NSS agency, the terrorist attacks, the assassinations, the betrayals, the government involvement, the secret organization, all the way down to many of the details that are 24 by the book (like, oops, wrong warehouse, or “give me that friggin’ code NOW”).

Furthermore, the television drama may be a very good adaptation of 24, but it simply lacks its cinematic aesthetics. The HD video look is irritating and drags down the overall quality, making it anything but fit for the silver screen. Consequently, it has been mostly aired on IPTV / cable TV channels so far, but Japanese audiences will have to brace themselves for that odd video look when the film hits cinemas in January. IRIS had a very big budget by Korean standards, but they forgot to invest it into 35mm film. Too bad: if there’s one distinct quality trademark it’s celluloid.

THE MOVIE: now the big question is who exactly is the target audience for this mashup of a movie? Any which way I look at it IRIS: THE MOVIE fails. That is because re-editing 20 episodes into a single film results in an incomprehensible mess. IRIS: THE MOVIE is free of any character development (let alone introduction), it randomly jumps in and out of scenes, nothing is sufficiently explained or integrated into the larger context. The whole movie feels like a very, very long trailer. Right. A trailer. That’s what it is. A two-hour long trailer, a never-ending best-of compilation. If you haven’t seen the series you’ll be repeating one sentence from beginning to end: what the heck is going on?

Die-hard fans of the series will of course disagree and say that IRIS: THE MOVIE is grrrrrreat, but that’s because they have seen the twenty episodes before, and what the movie does is that it triggers sweet memories. So that’s self-deception. Without those memories, it simply doesn’t work: IRIS: THE MOVIE is an executive summary not worth watching. It’s rushed, incomplete and dissatisfying, most of all it doesn’t substitute watching the series.

CONCLUSION: if you are interested in the series, avoid IRIS: THE MOVIE at all costs. It doesn’t do any good, in fact, it will seriously spoil the TV drama experience. And if you are not planning to watch the series, still there aren’t any good reasons to waste your time with IRIS: THE MOVIE as it simply isn’t a movie in the first place.

J.

 


THE INCITE MILL – 7 DAY DEATH GAME [INSHITE MIRU: 7-KAKAN NO DESU GEMU | インシテミル 7日間のデス・ゲーム]

2011/01/07

http://wwws.warnerbros.co.jp/incitemill/

JAPAN 2010  Directed by: Hideo Nakata Written by: Satoshi Suzuki  Novel by: Honobu Yonezawa Cinematography by: Junichiro Hayashi  Editing by: Nobuyuki Takahashi  Music by: Kenji Kawai  Cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Haruka Ayase, Aya Hirayama, Shinji Takeda, Satomi Ishihara, Tsuyoshi Abe, Nagisa Katahira, Kinya Kitaoji, Yuki Himura, Daisuke Kikuta, Yuki Furukawa, Takuro Ohno

Ten people are promised a dream job that pays them 1,200 US$ per hour. All they need to do is join an experiment and stay in a remote underground facility for 7 days – and survive. Because as soon as they arrive a murderous game begins and the facility turns into a true paranoid house where everyone distrusts everyone else – who will make it out alive and rake in the big bucks?

If that all sounds pretty familiar to you, you probably have watched KAIJI, LIAR GAME, DEATH TUBE or the mother of all death game movies, BATTLE ROYALE, before (and if you have ever seen the brilliant CLUE with Tim Curry, you will notice how much the detective plot in THE INCITE MILL reminds of its dramaturgy). THE INCITE MILL is a movie that not only comes surprisingly late, but is also surprisingly unspectacular: with a story so hackneyed you should expect Mr. Nakata to step up the game, or at least add his own touch of horror to the film. But neither is the case with THE INCITE MILL: instead of a top-notch fright fest we are confronted with a movie that is listless and astonishingly mediocre by comparison.

Now the question is if we should be surprised really. After Takashi Shimizu’s flop THE SHOCK LABYRINTH 3D also the former master of Japanese terror cinema presents a lackluster update of his original work (choosing a similar visual mood and tone as seen in SHOCK LABYRINTH, by the way). When Mr. Nakata shocked the world with THE RING many believed he was the apostle of a new wave of horror cinema, when in fact he largely profited from the fact that western horror was de facto inexistent at that time. The genre had worn itself out, and audiences worldwide were waiting for a fresh impetus that would revive the comatose patient.

More than anything THE RING marked the return to real horror (no Mr. Raimi, despite that marketing tagline DRAG ME TO HELL did not), scaring the living hell out of us with virtually nothing. It’s all in the mind; and that’s what true horror has probably always been about. But what fans and critics shouldn’t have attributed to Mr. Nakata is great filmmaking: with every subsequent work he (just like fellow filmmaker Mr. Shimizu) stuck to the formula that never was a formula in the first place, but fortune that favored the bold (or maybe just plain luck); or, he began to make movies that were anything but interesting, or genuine. Just right now he is doing it again: THE INCITE MILL and CHATROOM are like twins, and they both add nothing to what other filmmakers have done years ago and better.

THE INCITE MILL is a low-budget flick, a commodity that looks like a commodity, a classic detective story that tries to fit into the world of online broadcasts and vicious games run by voices from the off and scary puppets. For a detective story, it is simply too predictable, for a terror movie not scary enough, and for a slasher the violence is too harmless. We have all noticed that THE INCITE MILL is the 50th anniversary project commenced by Horipro (all actors are contracted by Horipro), however that does not excuse being too late with a subject like this, and doing too little to make up for it.

With grand gestures that have no meaning and an increasingly confusing plot the movie gambles away the least bit of its credibility towards the end. THE INCITE MILL is not exceptionally boring, but far from being exceptional. As a matter of fact, it remains below any standard from beginning to end. Seems like those who once resurrected the horror genre are now burying it once again.

J.